Saturday, June 25, 2016

Unleash the smart editing within.

As many of you who follow the SHAMsphere will know, Tony Robbins suffered a bit of a setback during Thursday's "Unleash the Power Within" event in Dallas. Although it was nothing on the order of a James Ray catastrophe, dozens of the 7000 participants got major hot-foots during Tony's signature Firewalk Experience; some had to be hospitalized. Which is how I happened to end up on last evening's World News Tonight with David Muir. 

Not actually me, present-day, you understand. Rather, ABC in its infinite wisdom dredged up a clip of an old interview I did with Dan Harris for GMA. During the course of that chat I gave an extended explanation of the physics behind the firewalk: why it's a carnival sham, if you will, and why it usually works if set up and run as it should be. At the end of my explanation I tell Harris that given what I'd just outlined, if appropriate precautions have been taken, "Your feet aren't on the coals long enough to get burned." 

Those 11 words were the only ones ABC ran last night. And without any set-up, coming immediately after images of people who did indeed get burned, it kinda made me look like an idiot or, worse, a Robbins defender instead of the studious debunker I was trying to be on that long-ago day with Dan Harris. 

Sometimes it's not enough to "just spell my name right," as the old adage about publicity goes. 


Elka said...

I saw it on the news and immediately thought, "Boy, I bet Steve has something to say about this!" :)

Do you have a link to that segment? I'll try to look it up anyway.

FWIW, I highly doubt you'd look like an idiot -- that would take some serious trying; although yeah, er, creative editing can do that to the best of people.

Speaking of idiots, though, at this point (yes, I'm slow) I am forced to acknowledge that people who participate in Tony & Co's exercises, or whatever they want to call it, are indeed idiots who deserve any and all pain they receive. There is just no excuse for this level of stupidity among the relatively well educated and well off adult Americans in the 21st c. None. Other than their narcissism, of course -- but that's no excuse.

Elka (a.k.a old Elizabeth)

Steve Salerno said...

Elka/Eliz/etc, it massively exalts it to call it a "segment." They covered the Robbins event, then showed a "typical" firewalk, then gave me one line--literally the words I quoted--out of context and from a several-year-old clip, in which I look positively dreadful/corpse-like due to studio lighting, I might add. That's reason alone to hate it!

Cosmic Connie said...

Steve, that's too bad about the editing of that micro-segment. But I remember the great job you did with the ABC interviews re the Death Ray story back in 2010. Here's an article on the ABC site about some of it.

And I wrote about it on my own blog too.

Elka/Elizabeth: I still vacillate between pointing fingers at participants in these events and feeling compassion for them. The James Ray death lodge pushed me more into the "compassion" camp, though; I certainly don't think that the people who died or were injured deserved it.

Yes, people need to take responsibility for their choices, but I still think that selfish-help gurus like Robbins, Ray et al. are in a clearly advantageous position and that above all, they have a moral responsibility not to manipulate people into doing things that can hurt or kill them. I think just about any one of us can be manipulated into doing something foolish or dangerous under the right (or wrong) circumstances.

Steve Salerno said...

Thank you, Connie, for your kudos and your kind reminiscences. That period of heightened SHAM/SHAMblog relevance seems very long ago. But we keep trying. I'm working up an opinion piece on the wider meaning of the latest Robbins snafu, and we'll see if I can find a home for it.

Cosmic Connie said...

And I was negligent, Steve, for not mentioning your more recent (2012) contribution to ABC, specifically, your appearance after the San Jose toasted-toes episode, which I also blogged about (the link to your post is in the PS).

SHAM/SHAMblog are still relevant because this sh-t just keeps on happening.